The house in the banner picture on this website does not belong to me. It is not my composing shack, or even a place I can say I frequent. But it is a source of inspiration. The picture is of Moving Star Hall on John's Island, SC. It is now called the Manna Life Center, and it is the property of a church in Charleston where Kay Colleton is the pastor (picture below). In its former life, in the 1950s and 60s, it was the place where Janie Hunter and Ben Bligen stomped, and shouted, and sang. It is a small shack where the Moving Star Hall singers met and told stories and watched for the sun to rise on Christmas morn. I visit it as one would a shrine.
If you want to put yourself in the shack, watch Ben Bligen in this video.
I took the pictures the day after Christmas this year on my most recent visit to Charleston.
Over the past six months, I have been working with a talented group of improvisatory singers in NYC, exploring the possibilities of collective invention. I started by reaching out to my friends Emily Eagen and David Rosenmeyer, and we assembled a number of singers, composers and improvisers who joined us to create a laboratory of sorts, exploring what it means to sing and invent together. When it seemed we needed an identity (we were asked to perform a concert), I could not help but think of Moving Star Hall. We have borrowed the name. We are continuing to determine who we are as an ensemble, as I imagine the Moving Star Hall singers did in their time. I like to think we are continuing something they began. Of course it's not an exact recreation of their work, but I always got the feeling from listening to their recordings and reading their words, that they expected their family was much bigger than the four walls of Moving Star Hall.